Alabama Living: Brownilocks and the Three Bears

It is decidedly strange and wonderful to slip into your best friend’s life and family like you’d always been there and had just stepped away for a minute. To already know, from a multitude of phone conversations, the flow of life in that household—and then to inhabit it and have it come alive all around you.

In the big picture, my time in Alabama was like slipping on a pair of comfortable shoes. It was a homecoming. At times, however, it also bore a strong resemblance to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears (except that my hair is brown).

The first night I slept in Amy’s bed because she was out of town. Her mattress is topped with a thick memory foam pad, which for me was way too soft.

The next few nights I slept in D’s bed (she got to sleep on the floor of her brother’s room, which thrilled her). Although comfortable, her mattress had been cursed with some dark magic that caused the comforter and blankets to continually slide off onto the floor. I was awakened frequently throughout the night, confused about having only a thin sheet to protect me from the subfreezing air-conditioned temperatures.

A slight alteration to D’s bed a week into my trip created my ideal sleeping situation. D’s brother had been yearning for a thick memory foam pad on his bed just like his mom’s—and fortunately that’s precisely what he received for his birthday. The thin foam pad that had been on his mattress was moved to D’s bed and it miraculously solved the problem of the disappearing bedding while also adding a layer of softness. Finally I had found a bed that was just right.


Goldilocks caught in Baby Bear’s bed. Illustration by Leonard Leslie Brooke

Then there were the bath towels. Amy doesn’t splurge on much for herself but she had recently splurged on some amazingly thick bath towels (they seem like distant cousins of her memory foam mattress topper—no joke). As you might guess, they were a little too high-brow for me; they almost stand up by themselves and meet you at the shower door when you get out. The ones in the linen closet, though, that were probably over a decade old, were too threadbare (and we ended up donating many of those). My “just right” towels were the practical fancy ones that had a thick soft pile and were cozy and absorbent without drawing much attention to themselves (and are much nicer than any towels I own).

Other situations fell outside the fairy tale mold but nonetheless illuminated my preferences.

The broom in Amy’s kitchen is the best I’ve ever used. It’s red and has a wide head, something like this:

Broom Capture

O-Cedar Angler Angle Broom With Dust Pan**

I’ve typically bought crappy dollar-store brooms that have narrow heads comprised of inconsistent and course fibers that somehow move the dirt anywhere but into the dustpan. Amy’s big red broom, however, made sweeping fun and easy (and induced the realization that I have become someone who is grateful for the efficient and enjoyable functioning of a BROOM. Dear Gawd, who am I?!).

In yet another WHO AM I?! moment, I spent much time admiring Amy’s choice of sponge: Scrub Daddy** (something I’ve seen for years on store shelves and never purchased). I found this happy sponge to be effective and appealing to the touch. In cold water it remains hard and in hot water it softens. Washing silverware by hand is a breeze: just stick it through the smile and voila! Also, it doesn’t get smelly like most sponges and that’s a huge plus.


Then there was the much bigger issue of falling in love with Amy’s Honda Odyssey. Minivans are amazing and I would almost consider having kids simply to justify buying one. I most loved the countless drink holders: the van had no issue accommodating my bottle of kombucha, a water bottle, AND a cup of coffee—all at the same time!

Also, everything I needed was at the touch of a button: I could open and close the sliding doors or open and close Amy’s garage doors. It was like (my childish idea of) being a fighter pilot! The smooth ride and powerful engine only added to the fantasy.

Everything about the Odyssey is in stark contrast to my beloved 20-year-old Honda CR-V. Driving Amy’s van on and off for almost three weeks made returning home to my car…difficult. Before I knew the magic of a modern vehicle, I thought my ride was perfectly fine. I mean, the windows are automated—that’s pretty fancy.

Yeah, no. As I am now altogether too aware…nothing about my car is fancy. It is basically a Fred Flintstone-mobile. The tires might as well be made of stone and it might as well be powered by human legs.

Fred Flintstone Car

I endanger my own life every time I merge onto the highway because I have to figure out which fast-moving SUV would be best to cut off. The road rage I inspire in other drivers with my I-think-I-can slow car will likely be the death of me.

Fortunately (and unfortunately) this Brownilocks is adaptable and can downlevel disturbingly quickly. After a few weeks back at home, I’ve mostly blocked from memory the smooth, powerful ride of Amy’s minivan. I once again feel pretty fancy being able to roll down the back windows with the touch of a button. And I’m still making strong choices about which cars to cut off.

I still dream of all those cup holders, though…

**I am not being paid to endorse these products and I’m not even sure what brand Amy’s broom is.**